Emerging themes in Aboriginal child and adolescent mental health: findings from a qualitative study in Sydney, New South Wales

Med J Aust. 2010 May 17;192(10):603-5. doi: 10.5694/j.1326-5377.2010.tb03649.x.


Objective: To explore emerging themes related to the mental health of Aboriginal children and adolescents ("young people") arising from focus groups conducted in Sydney, New South Wales.

Design, setting and participants: A qualitative study was conducted between April 2008 and September 2009 in three Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations in Sydney. A semi-structured approach was used in focus groups and small group interviews to elicit the views of 15 Aboriginal parents and 32 Aboriginal workers from a variety of health and social work backgrounds on important factors surrounding the mental health of Aboriginal young people.

Results: Major themes identified were the centrality of family and kinship relationships, the importance of identity, confounding factors in the mental health of Aboriginal young people, and issues related to service access and implementation.

Conclusion: Clinicians working with Aboriginal young people should be mindful of the critical importance of family and identity issues and should assess possible physical health or social factors that may complicate a diagnosis. Improvements in access to mental health services for Aboriginal families and a more holistic approach to mental health treatment are urgently required.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Psychiatry
  • Child
  • Community Mental Health Services*
  • Focus Groups
  • Health Services Accessibility
  • Humans
  • New South Wales
  • Oceanic Ancestry Group*